IntroductionThere has been the emergence of a Criminology of the dangerous other and talk about crime using the language of warfare and defense. Social solutions have given way to economic solutions. Welfarist Criminology, with its focus upon social deprivation, has been displaced by a new Criminology which stresses choice and control. Crime control has come to be viewed as a problem of penal disincentives, risk management and situational engineering, rather than a work of social justice or individual reform. Old welfarist ideals of Assist, Advise, and Befriend have been abandoned. The concern to reduce crime and monitor human behavior with new electronic technologies in the tracking society Therefore, it is emblematic perhaps of contemporary culture that each of the realities identified in the neo-liberal order offers the promises of escape from, rather than a deepened understanding of criminality. Those who do not conform to the neoliberal dream appear to have been shunted into a non-participative discourse, bounded by surveillance or the more palatable yet closely related discourse of policy and professional monitoring in criminal justice. Hopkins Burke, consider that ???as the empirical science of crime, criminology has concentrated on criminogenic issues, that is, those things thought to cause crime by definition, by situation or by compulsion???.
Throughout the years, the mainstream of research on crime has focused on criminal motivation, the desire or compulsion to commit crime. Two perspectives emerged: while some researchers view criminal motivation as something inherent in criminals, the product of some internal cause, others see it as the product of forces external to the individual, the pressures of the social and economical environment shaping criminal behavior in some individuals and law-abiding behavior in others.Strengths and weakness of Rational and Predestined Actor ModelStrengthsRational and predestine actor models views crime and criminal behavior as the outcome of choices, which are, in turn, influenced by assessment of the efforts, rewards and costs involved in alternative courses of action . It assumes that crime is purposive and deliberate behavior, intent on benefiting the offender by meeting the needs for gratification, excitement, autonomy, admiration, revenge, control, reduction of tension, material goods, among others. Furthermore, it is assumed that meeting the offender??™s needs involves the making of decisions and choices, however rudimentary these processes might be, and that these processes exhibit a measure of rationality, albeit constrained by limits of time and ability and the availability of relevant information. In fact, as ???rational does not equal intelligent or sophisticated???.
The models??™ perspective offers a view of bounded rationality, acknowledging that in reality, action often needs to be taken under less than perfect circumstances, all the more so in the context of offending/criminal behavior. This is inherently a risky activity, offering a series of uncertainties, time pressures and differences in the individual offender??™s skill and experience in interpreting whatever information is available.By application of Chicago School and the theory of social disorganization within the predestined actor model Hopkins Burke illustrate that disorganized surroundings help to produce and sustain criminal values and activitiesMoreover, offenders often make mistakes by acting rashly, failing to consider all sides of a problem, ignoring or downplaying risks, or by acting under the influence of alcohol or drugs.As experience changes the subject??™s information processing, so may a criminal improve on his/her decision making over time. The learning process is an integral part of both models in that this approach emphasizes the interactional, transactional and adaptive nature of human behavior.A second important premise of these models is that any attempt to explain criminal choices requires a crime-specific focus, not only because different crimes may serve different purposes and meet different needs, but also because the situational context of decision making and the information being handled will vary greatly among offenses ???the corollary of this requirement is that the explanatory focus of the theory is on crime, rather than on offenders???.
A third premise states that a decision-making approach to crime requires that a fundamental distinction be made between criminal involvement, or criminality, and criminal events, or crime. Criminal involvement concerns those processes through which individuals choose to become initially involved in particular forms of crime (initiation), to continue (habituation), and to desist (desistance).The decision processes at these three stages of involvement are influenced in each case by a different set of factors and need to be modeled separately. These decisions are typically multistage and extend over substantial periods of time: they incorporate decisions about, as well as reactions to, offending, and are concerned with a wide range of variables. Event decisions, on the other hand, are crime-centered and focused on crime commission: they concern choices made when preparing for, carrying out and concluding the commission of a particular type of crime.
While the timescale of these decisions may vary according to the type of crime, they take only as long as is necessary to complete these activities. The information utilized by the offender is characteristically more circumscribed, mostly related to immediate circumstances and situations, and the factors considered are also limited, primarily concerned with the immediate tasks at hand, such as selecting a target or a crime site location. Both involvement decisions and event decisions are crime-specific, and require a separate, specific study for different crimes.
It can be recognized that the models??™ conception of crime seemed to fit some forms of offending better that others; however, they consider that, even in those offenses that appear to be pathologically motivated or impulsively executed, rational components can be identified. Even though the motivation behind some expressive crimes may be pathological, their planning and execution may, nonetheless, be highly rational. Thus, pathological crimes involve non-pathological behavior; even those committed by psychotic individuals with unfathomable motives still exhibit some elements of rationality. Violent criminals, namely sexual offenders, display a substantial degree of rationality in the commission of their crimesIn their study of the rational choices of pedophiles, Smallbone, S., Marshall, W. L., & Wortley, R. (2008) examined the decision processes underlying sexual offenses and identified a five choice-model.
First, a pedophile must choose his hunting ground, defined as the places where he is most likely to encounter potential targets. Such hunting grounds may be domestic, occupational, or public. Second, having chosen the hunting ground, the pedophile has to choose the time when he will risk an offense: children will be present in parks or on the street only for certain periods in the day, and are typically at home during the evening. Third, if the pedophile finds him in a place and at a time where children are present, he must select his target, according to its erotic value, vulnerability and familiarity. Fourth, having selected the victim, the offender has to decide on a strategy to make initial contact and then to have sexual contact with the victim.Frequently used strategies for pedophiles are manipulation, threats, coercive actions, seduction, and money. For every step of the decisional process, an assessment of the risk of negative consequences is made: what is the probability of someone interfering, of being caught, of being denunciated by the victim, of being accused, of being convicted, and of being incarcerated We conclude by stating that this decision process is related to stable personal characteristics of the offender, such as personality disorders and/or deviant sexual preferences, and to his internal scenario, including emotional states, deviant sexual fantasies, and cognitive distortions.
The rational and predetermined choice perspective does not make restrictive pronouncements regarding the nature of criminal motivation; instead, it offers a heuristic device for structuring criminological debate, a way of exploring the antecedents of criminal involvement and criminal events in terms of decision-making processes. As Burke (2005, p. 44) emphasizes, ???It is an approach that avoids the inherent tendency within the predestined actor model to treat criminals as a category of humanity apart from law-abiding citizens???.WeaknessesFurthermore, these models present a number of limitations. First, they fail to take into account the whole of the criminal event, meaning the offender, the victim, and the context, in dynamic interaction.
By assuming that the offending process is stable and will not fluctuate, they neglect to consider the influence of situational and environmental factors, as well as that of the victim??™s behavior on the shaping of the crime. Another assumption made by these models is that the offenders??™ personal characteristics, such as personality, cognition and sexual preferences are the main factors influencing the offending process, further neglecting to consider the role of situational/environmental factors. These models also assume the specialization of offenders, thus not taking into account results from criminological studies demonstrating that offenders??™ criminal careers are polymorphous. Also, these models lack detail, in that they fail to portray the complexity of each phase of the offending process. Finally, these models have neglected to include geographic factors: they have not been developed on the basis of multivariate statistical analysis; fail to take into consideration the relationships between offenders??™ criminal and geographic behavior; and assume that the individual offender??™s offending process is stable, thus clearly disregarding situational influences on criminal behavior in this light, it is important to study situational variables and their choice-structuring properties, in order to stress the distinctive nature of different person??“situation criminal interactions as the models demonstrate that offenders act differently, depending on situational cues associated with the crime.ReferenceBurke, R.
H. (2005). An introduction to criminological theory (2nd ed.).
Devon: Willan Publishing.Smallbone, S., Marshall, W. L., & Wortley, R. (2008).
Preventing child sexual abuse: Evidence, policy and practice. Devon: Willan Publishing.